While my Crosslites essay was not selected, I want to thank all of you for voting and supporting my studies! I appreciate you all so much. Here is my essay, for those who are interested.
Aspirations: A Mother’s Hope
As a refugee from the Vietnam War, my mother arrived to Canada as a teenager without a home or a language. She spent her time trying to assimilate to a life that has now become the only thing I know. She made ends meet with endless side-jobs, late nights, early mornings, prayers, a limited vocabulary, and an undying love for her children. With just enough money for food on the table, a quick bedtime prayer, and a homemade birthday cake, I have grown up grateful, gracious, and headstrong.
I will be more than my modest upbringing. I will persevere and be the woman I was hoping to become when I was a girl. As a child in the midst of poverty, my mother once had a woman who always came to her fruit stand: she was dressed in a business suit, carried her Bible, and had meticulously beautiful hair. She would always come and buy from my mother in particular, and my mother aspired to be a successful woman like her. I will be that woman for my mother, for myself, and for all girls in the world who live their lives aspiring. I will be more for the future of women.
Most of my life has been designed by men and for men. All of my adult life I can count the number of female bosses, teachers and professors on my two hands. I grew frustration through my lack of mentorship. I remember in grade five when my male teacher spoke to us about menstruation, I still had not grasped the idea through his uncomfortable and vague teachings. That summer when I got my first period, I thought I had hurt myself and I was going to die. This lack of understanding of my own body being taught to me by a man has fueled my desire for more women to take the lead on discussions about women, for women. An entire untapped market of a gender is being underrepresented, and I want to be that voice for the nine-year-old girl I once was, afraid of my own body.
My mother always told me that she worked hard so that I wouldn’t have to. I disagree. I am born from oriental perseverance and western opportunity, and I won’t settle until she never works a day in her life again. I am nothing without my mother and her hardship. I am nothing without my mother’s aspirations seeping through me to become that proverbial “woman at the fruit stand.”